Thursday, August 29, 2013

Television Interview...


On August 28, 2013 I was asked to do an interview with Michael Voris on ChurchMilitant.TV. The interview was live and broadcasted on the Internet. Here is the clip of my segment. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why Are People Leaving The Catholic Church ???


I know I've been beating this topic like an old rug, but I simply will not stop talking about this until I see evidence that people are listening.  In a previous article, I shared a video of a regular Ordinary Form mass in Macon Georgia, which serves as a good example of something going right in the Church today. It's also a good example of a place where the Catholic Church is thriving deep within the Protestant heartland of the Bible Belt.  There is a growing number of such examples, and the formula is always the same.  This involves a heavy emphasis on traditional Roman Catholic doctrine and liturgy!  That's right, the more traditional and old fashioned the Church, the more young people flock to it.

Yes, the exact opposite of what the 1970s hippy generation told us has turned out to be true.  The generation of the 1970s told the Catholic Church to "modernise" and "get with the times," so as to bring more young people into the Church.  The Catholic Church did just that, modernising not only the liturgy itself, but the way the liturgy is celebrated, the music, the atmosphere, the preaching, and sometimes even the teaching. The result?  Over the last four decades a flood of young people have poured out of (not into) the Church. The exact opposite of what the 1970s generation told us came true.  The modernisation of the Catholic Church has obliterated the Church's appeal in the minds of many young people.

Even my younger sister, who is a lovely and devout Evangelical Protestant woman in her early 30s, can see right through it.  When she visits a Catholic Church, she prefers a more traditional style of mass.  The more incense, bells and chant the better, as far as she is concerned.  Bring in the altar boys in black cassocks and white surplices.  Let the priest face the altar instead of the people.  Kneel for communion for heaven's sake! (If you believe it's God, why aren't you kneeling!?!)  This is how she looks at it.  She doesn't believe in Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, but she understands it, and she understands that if we believe it, a certain element of solemnity and reverence is to be expected.  She gets quite bored at contemporary celebrations of the mass, and I can't help but wonder, as she's yawns and claps her hands to the latest Michael W. Smith song being performed by the parish choir, if she's thinking: "this sounds so much better at my Evangelical church." The truth is -- if she is thinking that -- she's right!  It really does sound so much better at her Evangelical church.  I know, I've been to those churches.  In fact, I even trained for the ministry in one. Their contemporary worship music completely blows our contemporary music away. Catholic churches just aren't built for that kind of worship and they shouldn't be.  My sister loves going to midnight mass with me on Christmas Eve, and when she does, she expects to experience a solemn high mass, where she sees reverence at the altar, hears the ringing of bells and the echoing of chant, along with the smell of incense in the flickering glow of candles.  That's what she expects.  She's a Protestant to the core, and she would expect no less.  That's why she comes.  It's the beauty that attracts her.  It's the ethereal and other worldly experience that keeps drawing her back.  She can't get that at her Evangelical church.  It's just not built for that sort of thing.  To her, this is what Catholicism is supposed to be.  Guess what?  She's right again.

You see there is only so much we apologist writers can do.  We can explain the sacraments and traditions of Catholicism, support Catholic teaching with scripture and reason, and even knock down every Protestant objection imaginable. Sometimes we do a very good job at this, creating a watertight argument that is nearly impossible to refute. However, any convert to Catholicism, like myself, knows this isn't enough.  It's never enough.  We can make apologetic blogs, videos, recordings of all sorts, and even draw pictures and graphics.  It doesn't matter.  It's all a moot point when something is missing.  What is that something?  It's the one thing that we apologists just can't do anything about, because we have no control over it.  It's the beauty and solemnity of Catholic liturgy. When that's not present, there is nothing we apologists can do about it.  An opportunity toward evangelism has been missed, and all we apologists can do is shrug our shoulders and move on, hoping for better luck next time.

You see evangelism is really very simple.  It only consists of three parts.  Are you ready, because here they come...
  1. PREACHING -- this involves everything from the pastor's homilies, to reading the gospels, to writing books and articles, blogging, to apologetics, to ecumenism, to street witnessing.  It's the spoken and written word that tells the story of Christ's redemptive love and sacrifice.
  2. CHARITY -- this is exactly what it sounds like.  It's about works of mercy, and involves everything from making people feel welcome at mass, to making new friendships and keeping old ones, to helping our neighbours, to reaching out to the poor, sick and needy.
  3. LITURGY -- this is the beauty, dignity and solemnity of Catholic worship. It's about bringing heaven to earth, by putting humanity in touch with the Divine, while the Divine puts himself in touch with humanity.
When all three of these things come together, they create a nearly irresistible combination that is difficult for any non-Catholic to ignore or refuse.  When one is missing, the work of evangelism is hampered.  Now God is God, and he can still save people regardless of our imperfections, and he does so all the time.  However, that doesn't mean it's okay for us to intentionally put up obstacles to the missionary work of evangelism to suite our own fancies.  When one of these three elements of evangelism is missing, or done poorly, it creates an unnecessary obstacle to the work of Evangelism.

So why are people leaving the Catholic Church? -- especially young people?  We could point to a number of reasons, but I think the biggest one today is hampered evangelism in the form of poor liturgical celebrations of the mass.

Now before you get your nose bent all out of shape, stop and consider what I just said.  I didn't criticise the Church's preaching.  Yes, sometimes there are problems with that, but with all the good preaching out there, I think it all comes out even in the wash.  I didn't criticise the Church's charity, simply because there is nothing to criticise.  I am not aware of any other organisation that does more for the sick, poor and needy.  I think the Church has got that one pegged just fine.  I suppose some of our parishes could work on making people feel more welcome at mass, but that's a minor thing which can be easily addressed.  The only thing I criticised was the liturgy, which of all three is the last of Evangelistic components.  Nevertheless, though it comes after the first two, it is still important.  For many, this final component of evangelism is a "deal closer."  This is what "seals the deal" and solidifies Catholic identity.  It may be last in the evangelism chain but it is important nonetheless.  How important?  Well, I think the last 40 years tells us how important.  During the last 40 years there has been an exodus from the Catholic Church unparallelled in half a millennium.  Not since the Protestant Reformation have so many Catholics left the Church.  So the question begs to be asked -- why? What has happened over the last 40 years that would cause this?

Many traditionalists point to the Second Vatican Council as the problem.  I disagree.  I go with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's explanation on that.  Vatican II was not the problem.  The erroneous interpretation of Vatican II, that followed the council, was the problem.  Part of that erroneous interpretation was the way liturgy was reinterpreted, renovated and recreated.  All across the Western world, the proverbial "baby was thrown out with the bath water."  High altars were torn down.  Communion rails were town down too.  The faithful were encouraged to stand while receiving communion in the hand as opposed to in the mouth.  Chanting was eliminated and replaced with contemporary pop music.  The bells were eliminated, incense was eliminated, and in some places, even the kneelers in the pews were eliminated.  The priest turned around and faced the people, turning "the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself." -- (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 80) The former pontiff continues with even stronger language advocating the ad orientem (facing liturgical east) posture by saying: "a common turning to the east during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord." (ibid. p. 81)  His Holiness pointed out many problems with the bad interpretations of Vatican II in his book Spirit of the Liturgy, and I highly recommend it. If anyone wants to dismiss my words here as having been influenced by "radical traditionalists," only our former pope is to blame for moulding my "impressionable mind."  The list of bad interpretations of Vatican II goes on an on, but I'll stop here.  

These changes began about 40 years ago.  The mass exodus of youth from the Catholic Church began about 40 years ago.  The crisis in priestly vocations began about 40 years ago. I don't know, maybe it's just a coincidence. Then again, maybe it's not. Maybe the two (liturgy and crisis) really are connected. Our former pope thinks so, and so do I.  Does that put me in good company?

Remember the three components of evangelism above.  For the last 40 years the Church has done a pretty good job with the first two.  Oh sure, there have been examples of some significant problems, mainly with individuals, here and there.  However, for the most part, the first two components have not really been very serious.  Like I said, the good teachers have balanced out the bad teachers, and in spite of this, the official teachings of the Catholic Church have never changed.  In addition, nobody is more charitable than the Catholic Church.  It's mainly only the third and last component of evangelism that's been a really big problem. As a result it would appear the consequences have been pretty serious.  One can only imagine how bad things would be if two or three components were having trouble.

So the solution, not only in my opinion, but also in the opinion of the former pontiff, is to go back to what we know works.  Revive that third component of evangelism -- liturgy -- and bring back the mystical experience of the mass. I'm not talking about a total reversion back to the pre-conciliar period by dumping the new mass.  Far from it.  I'm talking about strictly interpreting Vatican II, and the new mass, in the context of the pre-conciliar period.  In other words, I'm talking about a "hermeneutic of continuity" with the past, as opposed to a "hermeneutic of rupture" from the past.  I'm talking about doing the new mass in an older more traditional way, making every attempt to emphasise the mystery of the sacrament. Not only is this suitable for the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, but it is something that is not duplicated in most Protestant churches.  It forms a fully Catholic identity, and helps young Catholics appreciate what makes us unique and different from "other" (i.e. Protestant) expressions of Christianity. 

There are those who insist that Vatican II itself plays another significant role.  I would disagree with them on the surface, because the doctrine of the Church has not changed.  As the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith recently said; it is "heresy" to suggest that Vatican II itself was a "rupture" with the pre-conciliar period. -- (source)  However, on a deeper level, we could say that good liturgy helps us form a better understanding of Catholic doctrine.  As the saying goes -- lex orandi lex credendi -- or "the law of prayer is the law of belief."  The problem is not Vatican II itself.  Rather, improve the liturgy, and you'll get an improvement in doctrinal teaching and understanding.  One leads to the other.  

So why are people leaving the Catholic Church?  Well for the most part, it's because young people want a more disciplined Church with clear teaching.  In other words; "less warm and fuzzy, with more clarity and discipline please." A lot of this has to do with liturgy, or at least, that's where it all starts.  I think this is where it has to begin.  Let's face it, if we go through another 40 years of "more of the same" there won't be much left of the Church to reform any more.

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Highly recommended by priests and catechists, "Catholicism for Protestants" is a Biblical explanation of the Roman Catholic faith as told by Shane Schaetzel -- an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism.  The book is concise and formatted in an easy-to-read Question & Answer catechism style.  It addresses many of the common questions Evangelical Protestants have about Catholicism. It is ideal for Protestants seeking more knowledge about the Catholic Church, and for Catholics seeking a quick refresher course on fundamental Catholic teaching. It's an excellent book for Catholics and Protestants alike!
ORDER YOUR COPY HERE
Publisher Direct | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kindle | eBook | iBookstore

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Release -- Catholicism For Protestants

Coronation of the Virgin
circa 1646 by Diego Velázquez
Source
It is with great pleasure that on this day, which is the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, I announce to you the publication of "Catholicism for Protestants" -- a book of common Questions and Answers about the Catholic Christian faith.

The book is based on the article by the same name, which has been revised, improved and copiously annotated with footnotes and Scripture references.  Written in a simple Question and Answer format, like the old Baltimore Catechism, this book is designed to equip regular Catholics to explain their faith and win converts.  It is ideal both for Catholics who want to learn more about their faith, and for Protestants seeking answers to common objections to the Catholic faith.  It has been used by people in R.C.I.A. as a supplement to regular catechises.  Not only will this book help equip Catholics to answer common Protestant questions, but it will also serve as excellent follow up material to those Protestants inquiring about the Catholic Church. The book is recommended by many priests and contains a foreword by Father Christopher Phillips, an Anglican convert to Catholicism, and pastor of a large Roman Catholic parish in San Antonio Texas.

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Click Image to Learn More
Highly recommended by priests and catechists, "Catholicism for Protestants" is a Biblical explanation of Roman Catholic Christianity as told by Shane Schaetzel -- an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism.  The book is concise and formatted in an easy-to-read Question & Answer catechism style.  It addresses many of the common questions Protestants have about Catholicism. It is ideal for Protestants seeking more knowledge about the Catholic Church, and for Catholics seeking a quick refresher course on fundamental Catholic teaching. It's an excellent book for Catholics and Protestants alike!
NIHIL OBSTATIMPRIMATUR

ORDER YOUR COPY HERE
Publisher Direct | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Kindle | eBook | iBookstore

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why Do Catholic Bibles Have More Books?

Altar and Bible at Saint John Lutheran Church
Photo by Leon Brooks
We Catholics are known to have more books in our Bibles than Protestants, and there is a very good reason for this.  I'll explain below.  First, it's important to note that the New Testament of the Bible is exactly the same between Catholics and Protestants.  There is no difference at all.  They both consist of exactly twenty-seven (27) books, Matthew through Revelation, with no distinction whatsoever.  What differs between Catholics and Protestants is the Old Testament.  We Catholics have forty-six books in our Old Testament (46), while Protestants have only thirty-nine (39).  Protestants also have shorter versions of the books of Daniel and Esther.  The difference between the Catholic and Protestant Bibles specifically centres around the Old Testament and the Old Testament alone.  The seven additional books in question are...
  1. Tobit
  2. Judith
  3. Wisdom
  4. Sirach
  5. Baruch
  6. 1st Maccabees
  7. 2nd Maccabees
Of course, this really isn't a big issue for some Christians.  Some Christians don't spend a whole lot of time reading the Old Testament anyway, and focus primarily on the New Testament instead.  However, to other Christians, the issue of the Biblical canon is of key importance when it comes to their understanding of the Catholic Church.  The typical Evangelical Protestant narrative is that the Catholic Church supposedly "added extra books" to the Old Testament during those "scary dark ages" when Catholicism ruled the Western world and "real Christians" (i.e. Protestants) were hiding underground.  Of course this is ridiculous, but you would be surprised to learn how many people actually believe this nonsense.  Now to be fair, this belief is not held by all Protestants, just a certain growing segment of them.  Here in the Bible Belt of the United States, it would almost seem to be actual history.  It's preached from behind the pulpits, on television, radio, the Internet and even written into various evangelistic tracts.  However, that doesn't make it true.  Some Protestants have been trying to revise history for a very long time, and for all their centuries of effort, the truth always catches up with them eventually.  History is what it is.  I can't change it any more than the Protestant minister down the street.  For example; we might be able to fool some people for a while with our propaganda, especially those who aren't willing to look things up for themselves, but as soon as somebody cracks open a real history book, all of our propaganda will be in vain.  The truth is the truth, so we might as well just face it.

This is what happened to me.  A good deal of my Evangelical Protestant faith was built on propaganda back in the 1990s, and it was my study of history that changed that.  It didn't take but a couple history books to learn that much of what I believed as "solid doctrine" will riddled with holes.  "Knowledge of history is the end of Protestantism." That's what Blessed John Henry Newman said, that famous Anglican convert to the Catholic Church.  I, along with millions of others, are living proof of that.  The moral to this story is learn history -- real history that is -- and leave the propaganda behind.

The historical truth is, the Catholic Church never "added any books" to the Bible, and incidentally, the Medieval period was neither "dark" nor "scary."  It was the cradle of Western Civilisation that saw the greatest development of art, culture and civility the human race has ever known.  The only people who should ever call the Middle Ages "dark" are Atheists and Pagans, because it was during this time that their kind was the most marginalised.  If you were a believer in the God of the Bible however, the Middle Ages were a time of great triumph and hope.  Yes it had problems, to be sure, but it was not the "dark ages."  The only period that Christians have any business calling the "dark ages" was the period of Roman antiquity, when Christians were persecuted for their faith by being fed to lions in the circuses and used as torches in Caesar's gardens.  Now those were the real "dark ages!" 

So let's get back to the Bible.  Why do Catholic Bibles have a longer Old Testament than Protestant Bibles?  The short answer is simply this.  Protestants have shorter Old Testaments because the leaders of the Protestant Reformation removed books from the Old Testament.  That's it!  The Catholic Church didn't add books.  The Protestant Reformers took them out.  Don't believe me?  Look it up for yourself.  Crack open the history books and start reading.  Which history books?  It doesn't matter.  Read as many as you can!  Now, you'll never hear a militant advocate for the shorter Old Testament canon tell you that.  Such militant Evangelicals like you to read certain historical tracts of booklets that they have prepared for you in advance.  Not me!  I say go down to your nearest library, and find some books in the development of the Christian canon of Scripture.  Happy reading!

I can say that with confidence because I know my history, and I know history will back up what I'm saying.  I'm not going to direct you to certain booklets or tracts.  I don't need to.  The same goes for everything I'm about to write below.  Check it with real history books and see for yourself.  

The first Protestant to remove books from the Old Testament canon was none other than Martin Luther, the "father" of the Reformation himself.  In the 16th century, Martin Luther started putting the Old Testament under scrutiny.  This was probably because certain passages from the Old Testament, particularly in the Second Book of Maccabees (2nd Maccabees 12:44-46), were being used to back up the Catholic teaching on Purgatory.  Luther opposed the doctrine of Purgatory in his famous "Ninety-Five Thesis," and so any Scripture passage that could be interpreted to support this doctrine had to be eliminated.  Luther then moved seven books from the Old Testament out of what he considered the authorised canon, and into a separate section he called "apocrypha" meaning "disputed."  He also took chapters out of Esther and Daniel and moved them into this same apocrypha section.  Later, other Protestant "reformers" affirmed Luther's decision on this.  So there you have it.  That's how the Protestant Old Testament was shortened.  Again, look it up, in any history book on the topic, and see for yourself.  Prior to Martin Luther (16th century), all Christians used the longer forty-six book Old Testament.  After Martin Luther, some Christians (Protestants) began using a shorter thirty-nine book Old Testament.  That's the cold hard historical truth.  Catholics didn't add books to the Old Testament, Protestants removed books from the Old Testament.  End of story.

Now here is the back story...

Now that we have established this historical fact that the Protestant "reformers" removed books from the Old Testament, the question begs to be asked -- why?  We can speculate about Martin Luther's reasons.  His aversion toward the doctrine of Purgatory leaves us with a pretty obvious clue.  As for the other Protestant reformers and councils, the same reason may apply, though they often liked to cite a whole host of academic reasons other than that.  

Often one main reason cited is this.  The Medieval Jews used a shorter canon for their Bible, and since the Christian Old Testament canon is based on the Jewish canon of Scripture, it only makes sense for the Christian Old Testament canon to match the Jewish canon, right?  Well actually, when you know the history, it's a bit more complicated than that.  To understand we have to go back in history -- way back -- to the first and second century AD, to the time of Jesus and the apostles.  During this time there were many different versions of Scripture being used by the Jewish people.  Each Jewish "Bible" depended on what kind of Jewish persuasion we are talking about.  For example; the Sadducee Party, who mainly consisted of the priests of the Jerusalem Temple, had the shortest Biblical canon of all, consisting of just five (5) books.  It was the Law of Moses or Torah -- the first five books of the Bible.  Meanwhile the Pharisee Party, consisting of most rabbis, and by far the largest and most influential Jewish party in first century Palestine, had a much longer canon they called the Tanakh. which consisted roughly of the thirty-nine (39) books Western Jews use today, as well as what we see in the Protestant Old Testament.  Then there were the Esseans, who were an obscure Jewish party that lived in virtual isolation in Palestine.  They had their own canon, which had a considerable longer number of books.  Finally, there were a very large number of Jews living in diaspora around the Mediterranean world.  They lived as far south as Egypt and Ethiopia, as far west as Spain, as far East as Iraq and at least as far north as Rome.  The majority of these people did not speak Hebrew or Aramaic.  So the typical Bibles used by Jews in Palestine were not sufficient.  What good is a Bible if you can't read it?  So in Alexandria Egypt a translation of the canon of Scripture was commissioned.  It was called the Septuagint (meaning "seventy" in reference to the alleged seventy rabbinical elders who translated it).  This also came to be known as the Deuterocanon (meaning "second canon") written in Greek, which complimented the Protocanon (meaning "first canon") or Tanakh, written primarily written in Hebrew and Aramaic.  The purpose of this Greek translated Deuterocanon, is the same purpose that all translations serve -- to make the text more available to a larger number of people.  This Greek canon helped Judaism to expand rapidly in the ancient world, and brought in a number of Greek-speaking Gentile converts.  However, there was something different about this translation of the Scriptures.  It wasn't considered a mere translation.  The rabbis of the first century considered it to have equal authority as the Hebrew and Aramaic version.  In other words, the Jewish elders who translated these Scriptures from Hebrew and Aramaic into Greek didn't just translate the words, but they translated their meaning as well, including common interpretations and understandings of how these passages were to be understood.  

Now it is into this scene that Jesus and the apostles arrive.  Jesus was a Jew who spoke Aramaic and lived in Palestine, but his ministry was not limited to Palestinian Jews alone.  He was the Messiah for all Jewish people, regardless of what language they spoke.  The Pharisees looked down upon Greek-speaking Jews, and used the reference "Hellenist" in a rather derogatory way toward them.  Jesus however, did not look down upon them, and considered them just as much his people as any local Jew (John 10:16).  The apostles, likewise, acted upon Jesus' teaching, and had no problem ministering to Greek-speaking Jewish synagogues during their missionary journeys.  Greek was, after all, the language of law and commerce at the time, especially in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire.  Everyone had to know at least enough Greek to get by, and if you wanted any reasonable success in this ancient world, you had to be a proficient speaker of it.  So naturally, this Greek translation of the Scriptures -- this Septuagint or Deuterocanon -- was the version of the Jewish Bible the apostles primarily used to teach and quote from.  It was the primary apostolic canon!  Yes, they did quote from the Hebrew/Aramaic Tanakh (Protocanon) as well, but the majority of their quotations come from the Greek Septuagint (Deuterocanon).  There is something else about this Septuagint (Deuterocanon) that was also unique.  The Jewish elders who translated it were aware of the disputes that existed over the various versions of the Jewish canon back in Palestine.  So they took it upon themselves to translate those books, that they all agreed were worthy of being considered divinely inspired Scripture.  Their Greek canon of Scripture -- Septuagint (Deuterocanon) -- contained the equivalent of forty-six books.  Thus it was a bit longer than the canon of Scripture used by the Pharisees -- Tanakh (Protocanon) -- and considerably shorter than the canon of Scripture used by the Esseans.  

So there you have it.  The canon of Scripture primarily used by the apostles was the Greek translated  Septuagint (Deuterocanon).  So that was the canon of Scripture that came to be the Christian Old Testament.  It consisted of forty-six (46) books, and translated the commonly accepted meaning of the text as well as the text itself.  

Now in the years that followed the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (AD 70), with the Saducee Party defunct, and the Essean party irrelevant, the party of the Pharisees gained control of mainstream Judaism.  The destruction of the Temple created such a spiritual vacuum that it's difficult to express in words.  Suffice it to say, late first-century Judaism was in chaos. Some of the leaders met in various places, such as Yavneh, Lod and Bnei Braq in the Judaean lowlands to hammer out the details.  Contrary to popular belief, there was no "Council of Jamnia" as has been reported in years past.  Rather, the control of Judaism transferred to the Pharisees gradually, over a period of decades, spanning the fall of the Jerusalem Temple (AD 67-70) to the Bar Kochba Rebellion (AD 132-136) and thereafter.  Among the changes that transpired were the following:
  • Rejection of the Christian claim of Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah,
  • The mandatory use of the Hebrew/Aramaic Tanakh (Protocanon) as the official Jewish Bible.
  • The public reading of that Bible in Hebrew by all Jewish males on their thirteenth birthday (Bar Mitzvah).
  • The standardisation of various rites and customs to be carried out without a Temple in Jerusalem.
Virtually all of these changes occurred in those formative decades after the fall of the Temple, and were carried over into all of the synagogues in the West.  However, a small (almost forgotten) tribe of black Jews in Ethiopia did not adopt the reforms that followed the fall of the Temple.  In fact, these same Ethiopian Jews still use the forty-six (46) book Septuagint (Deuterocanon) as their Bible to this very day.

Common objections... 

Now when it comes to the Christian Old Testament canon, Protestants concern themselves primarily with academics.  They surmise that the original Hebrew/Aramaic Tanakh (Protocanon) must be more accurate, because after all, it is older.  Older is better -- right?  Therefore, they drop the Greek Septuagint (Deuterocanon), and thus abandon the Old Testament canon used by the early Church and the apostles.  Catholics, on the other hand, have a different take on the matter.  For us, it's not a matter of academics, but rather a matter of authority.  The real question is, who has the authority to determine the Christian canon?  Does that authority belong to a handful of 16th century Protestant theologians?  Does it belong to professors in universities?  Or does that authority belong to the apostles and the bishops of the early Church?  The Catholic answer is to choose the last of the three.  Only the apostles and bishops of the early Church had the authority to determine the Christian Old Testament canon, and the modern Catholic Church has authoritatively affirmed this in the Council of Trent (AD 1545-1564) by continuing to use the same Septuagint (Deuterocanon) the apostles preached from in their sermons and quoted from in their writings.  The fact is, the apostles and bishops of the early Church believed BOTH CANONS were authoritative -- both the Hebrew/Aramaic Tanakh (Protocanon), and the Greek Septuagint (Deuterocanon).  They used both, they quoted from both freely, and they held to the common Jewish belief at the time, which was that both were divinely inspired.

The problem the Protestant leaders have is that they are relying on academic authority instead of apostolic authority. They can cite a whole host of academic reasons why they shouldn't use the longer Greek Septuagint (Deuterocanon) as their Christian Old Testament, but they can't cite a single apostolic authority that agrees with them.  Even some of the academic reasons they cite implode after closer examination.  For example; one common academic reason why they ignore the seven additional books of the Greek Septuagint (Deuterocanon), is that they were allegedly not written in Hebrew.  (As if God only speaks in Hebrew.  What about the New Testament?  It was written in Greek.)  However, recent discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran reveal some of the seven books from the Deuterocanon originally written in Hebrew.  These include the books of Sirach and Tobit.  So much for the "Hebrew only" objection.

Another common objection is that Jews didn't regard these seven books as inspired, so why should they.  However, this ignores the historical fact that, in the first century AD, Jews were in disagreement about the size of the Jewish canon depending on what party they belonged to.  After the first century, as the party of the Pharisees gradually took over, their canon of Scripture became more regularised, settling on the shorter thirty-nine book Tanakh (Protocanon). However this was AFTER the time of Jesus and the ministry of the apostles!  Still, to say the Jews were in full agreement even after that is somewhat of a misnomer.  For example; the Talmud, the most authoritative book on Jewish traditions and interpretations specifically quotes the Septuagint (Deuterocanon) Book of Sirach as Scripture...
"Raba [again] said to Rabbah b. Mari: whence can be derived the popular saying, ‘A bad palm will usually make its way to a grove of barren trees’? – He replied: This matter was written in the Pentateuch, repeated in the Prophets, mentioned a third time in the Hagiographa, and also learnt in a Mishnah and taught in a baraitha: It is stated in the Pentateuch as written, So Esau went unto Ishmael [Genesis 28:9], repeated in the prophets, as written, And there gathered themselves to Jephthah idle men and they went out with him [Judges 11:3], mentioned a third time in the Hagiographa, as written: Every fowl dwells near its kind and man near his equal [Sirach 13:15]." (b. B. Qam. 92b; Soncino ed.). 
"...And R Aha b. Jacob said: There is still another Heaven above the heads of the living creatures, for it is written: And over the heads of the living creature there was a likeness of a firmament, like the colour of the terrible ice, stretched forth over their heads above [Ezekiel 1:22]. Thus far you have permission to speak, thenceforward you have not permission to speak, for so it is written in the Book of Ben Sira: Seek not things that are too hard for thee, and search not out things that are hidden from thee. The things that have been permitted thee, think thereupon; thou hast no business with the things that are secret [Sirach 3:21-22]" (b. Hag. 13a; Soncino ed.).
So much for that argument against the Septuagint (Deuterocanon).  We have clear historical evidence of Septuagint (Deuterocanon) books not only written in Hebrew, but also quoted as Scripture in early Jewish writings.

Then there is the common objection that Christ and the apostles never quoted from the seven additional books of the Septuagint (Deuterocanon).  Okay, so if quotation is a criteria of Scriptural canonicity then I guess we are going to have to exclude the following books as well, because they too were never quoted by Jesus or the apostles...
  • Song of Songs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Esther
  • Obadiah
  • Zephaniah
  • Judges
  • 1st Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Lamentations
  • Nahum
Obviously, quotation cannot be a criteria of exclusion for canonicity of a particular Biblical book.  If it is, we've all got some editing to do, because every Christian (and Jew) has these books in his/her Bible.

Another common academic argument against including the seven additional books of the Septuagint (Deuterocanon) is the citation of a couple early Christian writers who apparently did not regard them as authoritative Scripture.  Those typically cited are Saint Athanasius and Saint Jerome, who translated the Scriptures from Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic into Latin.  First of all, Catholics don't believe that Saints are infallible.  They do make mistakes sometimes.  The authority to determine the canon of Scripture rests in the Church, not individual Saints.  That being said however, Saint Jerome clarified his position in a later writing, in which he clearly regarded the seven additional Septuagint (Deuterocanon) books as inspired...
"What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Son of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew canon, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I wasn't relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us." -- (Saint Jerome, AD 402, Against Rufinus 11:33)
That being settled, all we have left is Saint Athansius, who was an excellent scholar on determining authentic New Testament Scripture, but apparently missed the mark on the Old Testament.  He is countered by the opinions recorded in the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Council of Rome, the Council of Hippo, the Third Council of Carthage, the African Code, the Apostolic Constitutions, and those recorded in the writings of Pope St. Clement I, St. Polycarp of Smyrna, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Hippolytus, St. Cyprian of Carthage, Pope St. Damasus I, St. Augustine, and Pope St. Innocent I.

Anyway, the list of objections goes on and on -- ad infinitum -- but what it really comes down to is this. By what authority do you base your Old Testament canon?  Do you base it on the academic opinions of doctors and theologians?  Or do you base it on the apostolic authority of the apostles and bishops of the early Church?  My question is, if the Septuagint (Deuterocanon) was good enough for the apostles and early Church, with its additional seven books and all, then why is it not good enough for us today?

In conclusion...

I write this not only in defence of the Catholic position on the length of the Old Testament canon, but also in genuine concern for my Protestant brethren in Christ, many who have been denied seven books from the Old Testament and additional chapters of Esther and Daniel.  I assert that all of the scholarly academic opinions in the world do not justify removing books from the Old Testament that all Christians had used for fifteen centuries! Some Bible publishers agree, and have begun to reprint them in various ways.  Some have placed them in separate sections called "apocrypha" meaning "disputed," and others have simply placed them back into the Old Testament in their original order with a notation that these books are from the Septuagint (Deuterocanon) and not found in the Tanakh (Protocanon).  I think that's a fair accommodation.  There are many English Bible versions on the market today.  In fact, there are so many that a common question heard today is: "which one should I use?"  May I suggest only using those English Bibles that are COMPLETE?  May I suggest choosing a non-abridged version?  That's my suggestion.  Every Christian, regardless if Catholic or Protestant, deserves access to ALL of the Scriptures.  It is no publisher's business to determine which books some Christians should, or should not, read by excluding them from their printed Bibles.  When shopping for a Bible, I recommend looking for one that contains the "Apocrypha" or "Deuterocanon" books.  There are plenty out there.  Try your local Christian bookstore first, but if you can't find one there, let them know that you might have to shop online if they can't get one for you.  All it takes is two or three such requests, from different people, and I guarantee it won't be long before they start carrying them on their shelves.

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

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